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Old January 5th, 2007, 01:17 AM
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Default MY WRAP UP

New Year’s Party of the Century - comes to an end.

Without a doubt this was a great cruise! A lot of people in the group loved the Century, others not so much. But, I think everyone loved the cruise experience we shared.

I felt the food throughout the cruise was a solid 8 out of 10; lots of variety on the dining room menus, and everything tasted good. Muranos specialty restaurant is a lovely, intimate setting. My personal favorite for such venues remains “The Olympic?, on the Millennium.

Some of the CruiseMates group had previously sailed only on larger ships, and I think some of them missed some of the amenities offered by larger ships; more lounges, more swimming pools, etc. Though the Century, at over 70,000 grt is not small, it does take some getting used to for those used to the 100,000 + ton ships.

We found the air-conditioning to be spotty around the ship. Some areas were cool, while others would be warm. Yet, this didn’t seem to be a consistent phenomena. On one visit a public room might be pleasantly cool, yet next time it seemed like the air wasn’t circulating at all. Though in our stateroom the thermostat seemed to work just fine, and kept our cabin at whatever temperature we chose.

In an earlier report I discussed some members of the group who had issues with their level of service. Two tables who I spoke with had a problem with slow service. One table, addressed their complaints to the Maitre ‘D on the first night, and enjoyed excellent service for the remainder of the cruise. The other table, which I discussed in the earlier report, after discussing their issues, chose not to return to the dining room, and ate their remaining dinners at the casual alternate evening restaurant, at the Islands Café. Now personally I have to think it was a mistake to give up on the dining room after the one evening of bad service. While the alternate restaurant seemed to have satisfied their needs, and they did say food and service in the evening alternate area were very good, they did miss out on the dining room experience, and dining with the rest of the group.

I highly recommend taking the approach of the first table; speak up, have it dealt with, and give them a chance to make it right! Bottom line… for those who avoided the dining room… the cruise line really doesn’t care if you’re in the dining room. The reaction to abandon the dining room- though somewhat understandable- really just takes away from your own vacation experience that you’ve paid good money for. Even Donald Trump believes in second chances!

I have to give kudos to Nancy Bogert, our Cruise Planners agent for doing a wonderful job on this group. Amazingly in this large group everyone seemed happy with their dining assignments, and their assigned table-mates when they were mixed and matched with people not originally traveling together. All the fits seemed very good! Not an easy task, and very time consuming to get it right. Nancy delivered on the ship board credits, and cocktail party promised as group amenities, and she also brought along really nice, and useful, bags for everyone, as well as lanyards, for everyone, and then having the CruiseMates group into her suite for New Years… very nice bonus amenities which were never promised! It’s very pleasant dealing with an agent who will try to “go the extra mile? for the group… and Nancy certainly did that!

This cruise needed to be about a 16 day cruise for us to enjoy the special camaraderie established. 5 days disappeared in a blink of an eye… but I think the majority of the group fit nine days of life into the 5 that were available to us.

The Internet service was, as expected, a bit slow, but wireless service is available in every cabin, if you bring your laptop. Internet time can be purchased for 75 cents/per minute, with time packages available, reducing the charge to 60 cents/per minute.

Debarkation today went very smoothly, no crowding , no rushing and no pushing. Collecting my rental car at the Marriott Biscayne Bay did not go near as smoothly, so I had to go to the airport Hertz location, and we then drove to Ft. Lauderdale to spend a couple of days before boarding the Liberty for 8 more great days.

There’s no perfect cruises, and there’s no ship that everyone is going to fall in love with. But…whether people in the group loved the ship, or ran into some glitches, it seemed everyone loved the CruiseMates New Year’s Party of the Century group cruise. We’re currently working on adding a couple of new and very exciting group cruises, which we hope to be able to announce very soon after my return from Liberty… so keep your eyes peeled to CruiseMates!!

Pictures I had difficulty loading from the ship, are now going up in the photo galleries... set up in groupings by day, so check back often.

I hope you've all enjoyed our daily reports, and hope you join us starting Saturday for "a taste of Liberty" for the Virtual Cruise Reports for the next 8 days.
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